Employee retention and turnover are a real challenge for transportation companies of all sizes. Attracting and retaining talent is crucial to keeping the wheels moving, reducing operating and driver management costs, managing safety, and improving the overall performance of your company, and it all starts with your hiring practices.

In a Perfect World

Companies would have a large pool of drivers to pick from and only hire top talent who is a good company fit. The reality is that the transportation industry is struggling through the worst driver shortage it has ever faced, and hiring decisions are being made more out of necessity to fill seats than on hiring the ‘right’ driver.

Creativity to Remain Competitive

Transportation companies have found creative ways to discover and attract drivers such as hiring abroad, in-house driving schools, hiring younger or less experienced drivers, mentorship programs, and government-supported programs such as Drive Forward. Understanding that transportation is a very competitive industry when it comes to attracting and retaining drivers, and pairing that with the need to hire NOW, companies are facing a sense of urgency to onboard drivers as quickly as possible.

Beyond Compliance

In addition to the challenges companies face when it comes to hiring, there is also increased pressure from insurance companies, court verdicts, and the transportation industry to go beyond compliance when managing driver risk. The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration defines beyond compliance as implementing safety programs above and beyond minimum compliance.

The concept of beyond compliance is met with opposition from transportation companies. Beyond compliance programs are viewed as another added cost and just another program that reduces the available pool, which severely lacks available drivers.

A major misconception about beyond compliance programs is that not all programs are created equal. Unfortunately, current practices in the Fitness for Duty industry have not caught up to the demands of the transportation industry, which has led to companies considering eliminating beyond compliance programs to meet hiring needs. 

Appointment availability for assessments, turnaround time of reports, and costs are just a few factors that have led these companies to reassess their current practices and why other companies are hesitant to invest in these proactive risk management programs. The decision to fill seats over safety not only puts the company at risk but also the driver and the public.

So how can you still manage risk and go beyond compliance, but also attract and onboard drivers to meet company needs?

As times change, we need to change and adapt to the world around us, which means finding new and creative ways to support safety initiatives, going beyond compliance to manage safety and risk, and ensuring that we are meeting the needs of the company. Finding the right solution may mean shaking up current practices but shouldn’t have to be overly complicated. By utilizing available technology to refine, simplify, speed up the process and focus on what’s essential regarding risk management, companies should still be able to satisfy their need to hire without sacrificing safety.

New technologies and programs have been developed over the past few years to support the changes to the hiring landscape. It might be time to start asking yourself these questions:

1. What are we currently doing and why?

2. Is it working? Why or why not?

3. Does it fit our needs?

4. What do we want to achieve?

5. Is the program measurable?

6. Is it consistent?

7. What is the return on investment?

You may find these questions very hard to answer, especially for programs developed years ago and then adopted by the current program administrators. It might be time to step away from traditional programs designed over a decade ago and embrace the changes discovered through science harnessed in technology.

Chris Wilkinson

CHRP, Sales Manager, Impirica Inc.

Chris has established himself as a leader and innovator in the fitness for duty industry supporting companies in Canada and the USA. From program development and implementation, to training, program review, and management, Chris has worked with companies in a variety of safety sensitive industries. Additional accolades include, training over 5,000 people since 2013, published online educator with 4.4/5 rating after 200 reviews, and published a white paper on opiate and opioid use in the trucking industry.